Tired of hearing how bored the kids are? Take them on a Progressive Picnic. Buy or prepare a picnic meal. Be adventurous and shock the kids with a breakfast picnic or a dinner picnic. Pick several parks with different toys and facilities. Eat one course at each park. Then, play before moving on. Allow plenty of time. Consider adapting this idea for special holidays, family days or groups of children.
Need a quick gift for grandma or the teacher? Make your own bath salts. Assemble Epsom salts, food colors, an unbreakable bowl, a spoon, a pretty bottle or jar (syrup or olive oil bottles work nicely), a funnel that fits the jar opening, and if desired, a ribbon or yarn tie. First, decide if the bath salts are to be one color or layered in each container in two or three colors. If you make multiple colors, you will need a bowl and spoon for each color. The funnel can be washed between colors. Next, divide the Epsom salts into portions that will fill the selected container(s). If two or more colors are selected, divide the container portion into a separate bowl for each color. Add food color gradually – one or two drops at a time – stir thoroughly after each addition of color. When the desired color is obtained, pour into the container(s) by using the funnel. Place the lid on the container and add a ribbon or yarn tie to decorate the top. This makes a great quick gift or a treat for the child/children to use at bath time. Do not allow children to eat the bath salts or drink the bath water. Like soap and commercial bubble bath, these products can cause upset stomachs and diarrhea when ingested. This project requires adult supervision and assistance for children under the age of twelve.
Want to keep the kids busy outside? Kids love to blow bubbles, but even the cheapest solution becomes expensive after they spill it often enough. With this great recipe, you’ll never have to buy bubble soap again. Assemble water, dishwashing liquid and glycerin. Most pharmacies sell glycerin. The recipe is written to allow you to adjust the quantity and obtain the consistent results. Mix 9 parts water, 1 part dishwashing liquid (brand name only is suggested) and 1/2 part glycerin. This mixture keeps well and provides a substantial amount of bubble solution. Purchase inexpensive bubble pipes and wands at a local discount store, or make your own from various items around the house. Then, head for the backyard or a nearby park! Do not allow children to drink bubble mix. Soap causes diarrhea and upset stomachs. For additional safety, keep the bubbles and bubble soap on an absorbent surface such as grass to avoid slippery footing from broken bubbles and dripping solution.
Need a good indoor activity for a rainy day? Finger paints are an old favorite that you can make at home. Assemble butcher paper, construction paper or shelf paper to paint on. A smock or apron is handy for both the supervisor and the artist. Next assemble soap flakes (such as Ivory, not detergent), water and food color. Mix the soap flakes and water until very thick and slimy with a fork or eggbeater. Divide into small containers such as margarine dishes and add a food color to each container. Most children like red, blue, green and yellow. Next, decide what you are making Pictures, wall posters, greeting cards or wrapping paper for future gifts are all great uses for the end product. Again, this project needs adult supervision. The paint is not poisonous and is harmless in small quantities, but children and pets should not eat soap. When the painting is complete, place it on a flat surface and weight the corners with books or canned goods until it dries. You can store the paint by placing it in covered contains with labels and storing them in a cupboard out of the reach of children. Check periodically for freshness, and add warm water if the mixture thickens while stored.
Got a budding artist in the family? Make your own clay. Assemble the following ingredients are 2 cups flour, 2 cups water, 1-cup salt, 4 teaspoons cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons cooking oil, food color (optional), a large spoon and a medium saucepan. Additional creative equipment may include cookie cutters and small containers of different shapes. Mix all ingredients together and knead until smooth and pliable. Store in an airtight container or bag to reuse. It won’t last indefinitely. Usually 4-6 weeks, depending on the amount of use and exposure to air. This clay may be dried and painted with non-toxic acrylic paint if desired or dried and finished with a clear finish, if the clay is colored.
Last, but not least, rescue all those broken crayons and put them to good use making Crayon Muffins. Begin by spraying a muffin tin with non-stick spray. Let children collect old crayon pieces and arrange them in a single layer in the muffin cups. Then, preheat the oven to about 200 degrees. An adult should handle the cooking process. Place the prepared muffins in the oven and monitor the melting process. This takes about 20-30 minutes, if the muffin cups are not overfilled. Then, remove the muffins from the oven to cool. When cool, the contents are easily removed by turning the muffin pan upside down and popping the muffins out with a tap on the bottom of the cup. These are great for very young children because they are colorful, don’t fit in the mouth and don’t break easily.”
Author’s Notes: The sources of these ideas and recipes are long since forgotten. In some cases, the original idea has been refined or embellished too. Penny learned many of them during her years as a Girl Scout leader and Homeroom Mom.